The Riddle of the Mythopoeic Sphinx

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

WARNING: This blog is a giant spoiler. If you want to solve the Riddle of the Mythopoeic Sphinx, turn away now. Come back when you've solved it. Oh wait—you didn't read that last sentence because you turned away. Good job.

Because the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Mummy's Mask set is loaded with sphinxes, I could not resist including a riddle. Riddles, after all, are what sphinxes do. Also, they bite your head off and use your ribcage for toothpicks. But mostly riddles.

The idea for the riddle involved isolating a loot card called the Mythopoeic Sphinx. As those who opened Adventure Deck 4 quickly realized, there was no way to get the Mythopoeic Sphinx into your deck. But, as it turned out, there was. Instead of dropping it on the Paizo forums where everyone would spot it immediately, I dropped a secret hint that there was a puzzle in Mummy's Mask into Diceychic's wrap-up of games at BoardGameGeek.CON 2016: "Fun Fact: Mike Selinker says, 'There is a puzzle in the game that the Lone Shark Games design team has told nobody about until today.'"

Immediately, the speculation began. Only when a valiant team of Paizo forumites cracked the code was the secret revealed.

But what was it? Venture forth only if you want to learn the secret of the sphinx.


Step one was realizing there was a connection to the Mythopoeic Sphinx. That required downloading Pathfinder Adventure Society Card Guild Adventure 3-4: Tomb of the Godless Host and taking a look at scenario 3-4C, The Choked Tunnel. The reward there was awfully cryptic.

The stunning phrase is "if that character recites the Mythopoeic Curse when doing so." There was no text anywhere saying what the Mythopoeic Curse was. However, there was another clue on that very page. Right at the top, in fact.

That Mythopoeic Sphinx image was tattooed by the talented Sonja Morris with five numbers: 4 3 2 8 3. To most puzzlers, that's a clear indication of an enumeration of the letters in a phrase. In this case, that the Curse would be five words of lengths 4, 3, 2, 8, and 3.

But where was the Curse? Turns out that you had to look at my flavor text on the cards—specifically, on the nine Curses listed on the scourge table, in the order that they're listed:

  • Curse of Poisoning: "Lo! The fire burns hot in your veins!"
  • Curse of Vulnerability: "O, wretches! You stand helpless before me!"
  • Curse of Daybane: "Know this! The Orb of Ra destroys!"
  • Curse of the Ravenous: "A plague of famine upon the nation!"
  • Curse of Withering: "To all your hopes, a decrepit demise!"
  • Curse of Fevered Dreams: "Sir, your sanity is imperiled!"
  • Curse of the Sphinx: "I watch over all! There is no escaping my gaze!"
  • Curse of Blindness: "On the brightest noon, darkness shall reign!"
  • Curse of the Mummy: "Send your best raiders! All will be lost!"

The first words of each of those oddly worded curses are LO, O, KNOW, A, TO, SIR, I, ON, SEND. Respaced to the enumeration on the sphinx's tattoo, they spell the invocation LOOK NOW AT OSIRION'S END. The Mythopoeic Curse is revealed.

A lot of people worked to solve that riddle, and at the end a combination of forum members Hawkmoon269, Iammars, Frencois, and ryric knocked this last step down. Congratulations to all—consider yourself cursed!

Meanwhile, we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to use the loot card Mythopoeic Sphinx in your regular Mummy's Mask games, not just in Season of Plundered Tombs. So today we're issuing only our second "optional errata" ever, for the adventure card Secrets of the Sphinx in Adventure Deck 4: You may change the reward to "Each character gains a power feat. 1 character may recite the Mythopoeic Curse to draw the loot Mythopoeic Sphinx from the box." (Or you can limit its appearance to the Adventure Card Guild scenario, and defeat its tricksy ways there.)

We hope you enjoyed divining the secret of the sphinx. And I promise never to include a puzzle in any of my games again.*

Mike Selinker
Adventure Card Game Lead Designer

*May not technically be true.

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Cool! Will there be a FAQ entry for reference?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Malcolm_Reynolds wrote:
Cool! Will there be a FAQ entry for reference?

It's now linked from the blog.

Lone Shark Games

Also, this was fun to observe from the Lone Shark Watchtower.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Sweet! :) Good job peeps!

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Is it on purpose that the blog post is in the adventure card guild subforum instead of the usual general discussion subforum?
And are there still plans to bring the card guild subforum overview back to the pacg site?

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mike Selinker wrote:
And I promise never to include a puzzle in any of my games again.

That's a really odd way to announce your retirement.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Moved thread to the main PACG subforum. And I believe the PFSACG forum will be put back soon.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
And I promise never to include a puzzle in any of my games again.*


I wouldn't have believed you even if you didn't include the link to Apocrypha.

Congrats to everyone who helped solve this!

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

So if I get it right we are now cursed and compelled to solve all of Mike's riddles in coming games...
Not so bad as a scourge.

Silver Crusade

Congrats to the solvers!

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